- Paperback: 392 pages
- Publisher: Red Wheel / Weiser; First Printing - First Thus edition (April 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0877289298
- ISBN-13: 978-0877289296
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The History of Magic Paperback – April 1, 1999
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ln my opinion, the first 160 pages or so contain the book's richest information, speaking in simpler language and laying down essential facets of Levi's occult belief system. Some of the cuts l particularly like include: 'Woe therefore to those who would employ natural powers in the service of injustice, since Nature is just and her reactions are terrible.' 'Black magic may be defined as the art of inducing artificial mania in ourselves and in others; but it is also and above all the science of poisoning.' 'To say there is no God, or to define what he is, constitutes equal blasphemy. Every definition of God hazarded by human intelligence is a recipe of religious empiricism, out of which superstition will subsequently extract a devil.'
The latter half of the chapters become more detailed and anecdotal in nature. Here, we read stories and legends of famous and/or higher profile characters involved in the sphere of occultism: alchemists, sorcerers, madmen and reckless profaners of sacred magic rites. Gilles de Raiz, Rudolf II Holy Roman Emperor, Paracelsus and the Knights Templar are some of the cases examined. Often these people would meet terrible ends, due to events which are open to interpretation. The author, however, tends to stress that the mishandling of the absolute powers that be will always come with a dear cost, in various forms.
lf you've read Transcendental Magic: Doctrine/Ritual, and you still have nightmares about how hard it was to read at times, this book should be somewhat of a relief. l find Levi's wording to be remarkably more easy to deal with here. There are footnotes throughout by the translator A.E. Waite, often disputing Levi's historical accuracy or contrasting his opinions. Most of these aren't very noteworthy, but some of them take up half the page.
l think this is a good volume on the occult, written by a foremost author of that genre. ln the summary and conclusion, the writer does return to his interstellar, word-salad style and loses me a bit. Nevertheless, l enjoyed and recommend this book for some ideas of where occultism came from.
It was a great buy, I am most excited; and finally, it comes from an amazing writer who( if you understand his prose) captivates you into believing, as he does.
Eliphas Lèvi is an exceptional writer, who, not only enlightens, but also encourages process.
Take care to enjoy the book, as much as I the book and its author.
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I had to make notes in order to read through all of what appears to be scanner artifacts throughout the...Read more